My Fate(s) in the Car

by Cynthia West

The Parcae (Latin for the Fates) were three goddesses who “spun, measured and cut the thread of life.” Nona, Decima, and Morta ­­– artistically rendered as everything from cherubs to femme fatales – were charged with determining not only the birth and death of mortals, but the very quality of their lives.

Decima, the Fate who measured the thread of life with her rod, might find that mine is a half-completed tapestry, with much of the weaving going on in my car. While I wouldn’t swap the beauty of my rural surroundings, I often plan my entire day around a trip to the grocery store (30-40 minutes) or an appointment with my doctor (25 minutes). My car has become a habitat of sorts; a roving storehouse of provisions from deodorant to floss, Advil to first aid. I carry clothing for all weather (come on, it’s New England), and always have something on hand to read.

Nona, the Fate who determined lifespan on the day a child was named, must’ve been hovering closely as my mother won the battle over naming me Thomasina. Instead, I came into the world as Cynthia, named for a Greek moon goddess. Nona must have had quite a sense of humor, as I haven’t slept a night of my life on a full moon. I won’t even get in my car on a full moon.

Morta, who chose the time and type of death, got me good when she planted a dream deep in my subconscious that I’d be taken out by a big, blue semi. Every time I see one on the highway I find myself at military attention, hyper vigilant, willing away the transgressor.

But it’s Decima who interests me most. Decima is alive and well, riding with me as I scan the marsh for the V-shape parting of water that tells me a beaver is swimming to his lodge. Decima peers over my shoulder as I tilt my head to follow a hawk, or pull over to watch llamas drag hay from their feeder. Decima helps me make my turtle kit every spring – a cardboard box, big stick, and towel – so that these ancient wonders that Morta seems to have reprieved will live to breed again. And it’s Decima who blows gently in my ear as I slow to watch a procession of deer, marveling at the life I’ve been given.


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